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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 

 

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Love Lies Bleeding, Review: Musclesbians

Love Lies Bleeding, Review: Musclesbians Some lesbian sex, a load of police corruption and bullets by the container, are the ingredients of this pot boiler. Bringing together unlikely, low-brow elements, Love Lies Bleeding might interest female body-builders and lesbians in present day USA, but has little to offer by means of entertainment, wholesome or unwholesome. It is likely to prove one of those come and go movies that have a lot of crime and muscle power on screen but do not have anythi...

Amaze on and on and on: Matka King, Dupahiya, Snakes and Ladders, Matka King and The Rana Connection

Amaze on and on and on: Matka King, Dupahiya, Snakes and Ladders, Matka King and The Rana Connection In the third part of my report, here’s the lowdown on four more shows that Amazon has lined-up, in various languages. Matka King (Hindi) In this fictional tale set in 1960s Mumbai, an enterprising cotton trader who craves legitimacy and respect, starts a new gambling game, dubbed ‘Matka’, which takes the city by storm and democratises a terrain previously reserved for the...

Amaze on and on: Citadel: Honey Bunny (Hindi)

Amaze on and on: Citadel: Honey Bunny (Hindi) Raj and D.K. The duo that always pay! They take-over Citadel from and name their series Honey Bunny. “We believe in giving titles that are in sharp contrast to the content of the show. (Well, what else would you say about The Family Man and Guns and Gulabs, for example?”). Honey and Bunny, co-incidentally, happen to be the names of the leading pair, Varun Dhawan and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, in the series. This is Varun Dhawan’s stre...

Amaze on Prime video: PLOTT A LOTT GOTT

Amaze on Prime video: PLOTT A LOTT GOTT Inviting us at 12 noon for lunch at a 5-star hotel was unusual. The practice is to invite you at 12 or 12.30 pm, and serve you lunch at any time between 3 and 5 pm. Oh, the price you pay for being a journalist! Proceedings begin at around 2 pm, and last for about 1- ½ --2 hours. Lunch dare not be served before the proceedings begin, or while they are on, because savvy organisers believe that starved journalists would wait, while ‘lunched&rs...

Gin Ke Dus, Review: I’ll count till ten

Gin Ke Dus, Review: I’ll count till ten There was a film titled Ab Tak Chhappan (So Far, 56), about a specialist cop who had killed 56 criminals in what are known as ‘encounters’. These are often incidents where the victim is lulled into believing that he has been let off, only to be shot dead by the policeman who set this up. A giveaway, the tile told you that there would be 56 killings, though cinematically, all might not be shown in detail, due to time constraints. Now co...

Kusum Ka Biyaah: A bridge that divides

Kusum Ka Biyaah: A bridge that divides Jharkhand was carved out of the state of Bihar many years ago. Perhaps some people in either state and the governments have not yet reconciled to the partition. There appear to be irreconcilable differences between them. With this background comes a small indie film, Kusum Ka Biyaah (Kusum’s Marriage), that is set in the border areas of the two states and involves the marriage of a graduate girl called Kusum, from Bihar, to a colliery worker from J...

Yodha, Review: You are on the wrong plane

Yodha, Review: You are on the wrong plane First they got the spelling wrong, using Yodha instead of Yoddha. Secondly, they got the meaning wrong. Yodhha means a warrior, whereas the Yoddha, who is the protagonist of the film, is an ultra-modern special missions operative, who is disgraced and demoted to the duty of an air security officer, as a result of being over-ambitious during a dangerous mission. At the core of the film is a long second segment inside an aircraft, which is also the most...

Bastar-The Naxal Story, Review: GhostBastar

Bastar-The Naxal Story, Review: GhostBastar Conflict has been raging at India’s borders for decades and decades. India-China and India-Pakistan borders are conflagration points since the last century, and Kashmir is a region which India claims as its own, while insurgents align themselves with Pakistan. We also face conflict in the North-East, where there are separationists in action. But the largest conflict is between Maoists (Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist), known as Naxa...

Chandigarh gets its investiture: Cinévesture International Film Festival

Chandigarh gets its investiture: Cinévesture International Film Festival Rana Dagubatti, Jérôme Paillard, Julian Friedmann, Nicole Guillemet, Nuhash Humayaun, and Ajitpal Singh must be familiar names to film festival buffs. Now they have come together to serve on the Advisory Board of a film festival, which will be held in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, a city that serves as the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana. The festival is called Cinévesture I...

FICCI FRAMES 2024, 04: Skilled entertainment industry crucial in realising the vision of Developed India

FICCI FRAMES 2024, 04: Skilled entertainment industry crucial in realising the vision of Developed India On March 7, the closing day of the 3-Day Convention, Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of India, said that the Indian media and entertainment sector is growing rapidly, and there is immense potential for ‘skilling’ in this sector. This sector has been growing with a CAGR of over 13 per cent in the last few years, and ...

FICCI FRAMES 2024, 03: AVGC policy to facilitate investments, foster innovation

FICCI FRAMES 2024, 03: AVGC policy to facilitate investments, foster innovation Realisation of ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India) depends on collective contribution of everyone. ‘Skilling’ is integral to the future of India, said Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Minister, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of Maharashtra. He was speaking on the first day of the 3-day annual conclave, FICCI FRAMES, held during March 5-7, 2024. This was the 24th such summit, whic...

FICCI FRAMES 2024, 02: FICCI-EY report: Indian M&E sector crossed INR 2.3 tr in 2023, expected to reach INR 3.1 tr by 2026

The latest FICCI-Ernst and Young (EY) report, titled ‘#Reinvent: India’s media & entertainment sector is innovating for the future’ was launched at the FICCI FRAMES 2024, at the Westin Hotel, Powai, in Mumbai, on 05 March. FICCI is the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and EY is a consulting, assurance, tax and transaction services law firm. New media, comprising digital and online gaming, emerged as the frontrunner in growth, contributing INR 122 bi...

FICCI FRAMES 2024, 01: RRR-Reflections, Realities, and Road Ahead

A return to its long-term base of Hotel Westin, by the lake in Powai, might just be a step in the right direction. As usual, the conclave runs for three days, Tuesday to Thursday. The dates are March 5-7. This time around, the media could register online and get a confirmation too. The process was smooth. But whether the media will be treated any better in 2024 than it was in 2013 will be known over the next few days. FRAMES looks towards Turkey this time to invite Turkish Actress Hande Ercel...

288 days to go for the 2024 edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival

288 days to go for the 2024 edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival At the end of the third edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF), on 09 December 2023, audiences, media and professionals alike were left craving for more. And more is coming your way. While some film festivals have fixed dates, and other international film festivals announce their dates much closer to the event, RSIFF has chosen to announce its dates almost ten months in advance. With very high p...

Love & Latte launch: A feast for the eyes, both on and off the screen

Love & Latte launch: A feast for the eyes, both on and off the screen They call it the Red Bulb. It is a preview theatre, located on the third floor of a high-profile building, off Link Road, Andheri West. The invitation said 6.30 pm. Traffic jams made sure I reached at 7.15 pm. Too early. Things started moving at 9 pm, and went on until almost 11 pm. A little too long for the launch of a music video, which was projected thrice. Shot in Azerbaijaan, with a Sydney Opera House look-alike in...

Argylle, Review: Spyurious stuff

Argylle, Review: Spyurious stuff Don’t even try. To make sense of this one. It’s a tribute to James Bond, Jason Bourne, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon. That is what the makers want you to believe. Well, it’s one tribute the ‘quartet’ can do without. There is a cat in the film, getting a fair amount of footage. Maybe that’s a tribute to Solomon, the cat of the Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who appears in several 007 films, a white, blue-eyed Turkish Angora. In...

RSIFF, 12: Bakhtawar Mazhar: In Flames of Glory

RSIFF, 12: Bakhtawar Mazhar: In Flames of Glory A day before the awards were announced, declaring In Flames the best film, at the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF), I was face–to-face with Bakhtawar Mazhar, one of the protagonists of In Flames, her feature debut, a film that had made a tremendous impression on me. This, a face-to-face with a Pakistani actress, had never happened before, and I was not going to let this opportunity go by. We got into a car, and started talking. ...

RSIFF, 11: Winners Declared, the Festival over, or is it?

RSIFF, 11: Winners Declared, the Festival over, or is it? Red Sea International Film Festival was to be held from 29 November to 09 December. But when we got our invitations to the closing night, it was indicated as 07 December. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But if you have attended other film festivals, like the Mumbai Film Festival (held by MAMI), you would not be surprised. Actually, it is a great idea. Announce the awards two days before the closing, so that the invited guests do not ha...

RSIFF, 10: Foundation, Fun d-a-mentals, Funding, Figures and Films

RSIFF, 10: Foundation, Fun d-a-mentals, Funding, Figures and Films A major initiative of Saudi Arabia in developing film production and co-production is the Red Sea Film Fund. Supporting Development, Production, and Post-Production of Arab and African Films. The Red Sea Film Festival Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization registered in Saudi Arabia. The foundation is chaired by Jomana Al Rashid, the president of the foundation is the Saudi producer Mohammed Al Turki. The Red Sea Fu...

RSIFF, 07: Competition Section films that I saw, and my opinions about them

  RSIFF, 07: Competition Section films that I saw, and my opinions about them THE TEACHER Palestinian school-teacher Basem (Saleh Bakri) grapples with personal devastation, after a tragic incident involving his son, who dies in custody merely suspected of participation in a protest. His life takes an unexpected turn when he forms a deep connection with Adam, one of his traumatised students, who has suffered personal losses in the ongoing conflict. He also develops an unexpected b...

RSIFF, 03: Elusive interviews, while the stars emerge from the Red Sea

  RSIFF, 03: Elusive interviews, while the stars emerge from the Red Sea Some three weeks before the festival began, while still in Mumbai, I thought of doing an exclusive interview with Shivani Pandya Malhotra, and some 2-3 other curtain-raisers. Now this could only be done via video or audio or email. I was ready for any of the three modes. But I had no way of contacting these officials, and approached the PR agency to help me out, which said that organising interviews were st...

RSIFF, 02: A Colourful Ocean of remarkable films at the Red Sea

RSIFF: A Colourful Ocean of remarkable films at the Red Sea A film festival named after the Red Sea? Where is the Red Sea? Let me see…it touches Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt and Jeddah. A film festival in Jeddah? Ok, so Jeddah is by the sea, and a good location to hold a film festival. A film festival organised in Saudi Arabia? You will be surprised. Incidentally, this was not the first edition, but the third. For me, though, it was the first. Another surprise, to an Indian, was that a c...

Red Sea International Film Festival, 2023, 01: A royal pilgrimage for film-buffs

Red Sea International Film Festival, 2023, 01: A royal pilgrimage for film-buffs On the registration form, there was question, ‘Will you be going to the Medina pilgrimage?’ I wasn’t, so I typed, “No”. On the Saudi Airlines direct flight from Mumbai to Jeddah, the man seated behind me asked me the same question. “I could take you to Medina. It is only 480 kms from Jeddah, but at 180 kms per hour, we will take you there in no time.” Turned out th...

IFFILMS 54, 06: The Golden Peacock, and other birds of the same feather

IFFILMS 54, 06: The Golden Peacock, and other birds of the same feather On the 28th of November, when the award winners were being announced at IFFI 54, I was packing my bags to catch a flight the next morning, to Jeddah, where I was invited by the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF). But it would be fitting to end my writings on IFFI 54 by listing the winners. So, here goes: Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Douglas        &nb...

IFFI 54, 5: IFFILMS, In Retrospect, Part III

IFFI 54, 5: IFFILMS, In Retrospect, Part III I continue my views and mini reviews, about films I saw at IFFI 54, held in Goa, during November 20-28, 2023. Toxic An odd love story, Toxic is based on a public swimming pool as its centre-piece. Coming from the Czech Republic, and directed by Stefan Vorzacek, it is the story of a lonely executive, Tomas, who visits the pool as a form of workout, and falls in love with its enticing attendant, Esther. But the affair goes awry with the intervent...

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

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